Category: Middle Eastern

Tasty Reads 2 – Persiana – Sabrina Ghayour

Persiana – Sabrina Ghayour

Confession time.  I have a massive girl crush on Sabrina Ghayour, author of Persiana.  Not in some weird way, I just want us to be friends, maybe even best friends. Mainly so I could go round to her house and whilst we chatted about boys and bras, she could make me all the gorgeous things in this book.  I would bring wine.  Then I could sleep over and we could put curlers in our hair and have a pillow fight. 

This book.  OMG, this book.  Opening this book was like falling in love.  Seriously.  The photography is amazing.  This is hard core drool worthy food porn.  Persiana is my easily my favourite cookbook of the year; it may well become my favourite ever (sorry Nigella, I’ve got a new bestie…)

Recipes marked to cook: 75

Yep, pretty much all of them. 

I actually feel bad I haven’t made more things from  it.  Paleo got in the way.  but as at 30 November, this is the tally.

p10 Broad Beans with Garlic Dill & Eggs (made)

Loved it.  Except for double podding the broad beans which took forever!!!  Tried it with edamame and it was not so good.  Sadly, looks like I will be double podding for some time as this was amazing.

Broad Beans With Garlic, Dill & Eggs2
Broad Beans With Garlic, Dill & Eggs2
  • p12 Aubergine Chermoula
  • p15 Yogurt with Cucumber, Garlic & Dill / Cacik
  • p17 Marinated Feta
  • p20 Yogurt, Cucumber & Mint / Maast O Khiar
  • p33 Turkish Feta Pasty Cigars / Sigara Borek Peynir
  • p35 Salt Cod Fritters
  • p36 Pistachio Feta Dip
  • p38 Safavid-Style Beef Pastries

p41 Baked Eggs with Feta, Harissa, Tomato Sauce and Coriander (made)

Baked Eggs With Harissa, Feta Tomato Sauce and CorianderLoved the flavour combination! This is pretty much my ideal meal.  One dish.  Eggs, Cheese, tomatoes, chilli.

 p45Lahmacun (made)


This one didn’t do it for me.  I like meat on my pizza to be quite chunky and even though I did not chop the meat through as much as Sabrina recommended it was still too paste like for me.  Use this same mix and make tiny little meatballs to scatter over the top of the pizza base and you’d have a winner from me.  On the other hand, he really liked it.

  • p46 Spiced Lamb Kefta
  • p48 Spice Salted Squid
  • p53 Eastern Style Focaccia
  • p55 Persian Flatbread  / Naan Barbari
  • p60 Persian Bejewelled Rice / Morassa Polow

p 63 Persian Basmati Rice / Chelo (Made)

I love a claypot rice and this is very similar.  Mine didn’t work out exactly as per the picture but I think it was an ok first attempt.  And Sabrina does say even the experienced cook sometimes needs a bit of luck to pull this off.


Sabrina Ghayour's Chelo


Persian Basmati Rice2
Persian Basmati Rice2
  •  p65 Rice With Lentils and Crispy Onions / Mojardara
  • p68 Spicy Prawn Rice / Maygoo Polow
  • p72 Lamb Biryani

p78 Spiced Vegetable Soup (Made)

Spiced Vegetable Soup
Spiced Vegetable Soup


  • p83 Persian Saffron Chicken, Fennel and Barberry Stew

p85 Chicken, Walnut and Pomegranate Stew / Khoresh-e-Fesenjan (Made)

This photo does not do justice to this delicious dish.  Either in how good it tasted or how pretty it was.  Sorry.  But take my word for it.  This was really good!

  • p88 Lamb Shank, Black Garlic and Tomato Tagine
  • p91 Persian Dried Lime, Lamb and Split Pea Stew / Khoresh – e – Gheymeh
  • p93 Seared Lamb and Apricot Stew
  • p94 Lamb, Butternut Squash, Prune and Tamarind Tagine
  • p96 Pomegranate Soup With Meatballs / Ash-e Anar
  • p99 Seafood and Saffron Stew
  • p104 Saffron and Rosemary Chicken Fillets
  • p109 Ras el Hanout Chicken Wraps
  • p110 Harissa and Preserved Lemon Roasted Poussins
  • p114 Saffron and Lemon Chicken / Joojeh Kabab
  • p117 Lamb and Sour Cherry Meatballs
  • p119 Mechouia-Style Lamb Leg with Cumin Dipping Salt
  • p120 Spiced Rack Of Lamb With Pomegranate Sauce
  • p122 Turkish Adana Kofte Kebabs
  • p125 Tray- Baked Rose Petal Lamb Chops With Chilli And Herbs
  • p127 Lamb and Pistachio Patties / Fistikli Kebap
  • p128 Spice Perfumed Shoulder of Lamb
  • p130 Seared Beef with Pomegranate and Balsamic Dressing

p135 Cod in Tamarind, Coriander and Fenugreek Seeds (made)

Cod in Tamarind, Coriander and Fenugreek Sauce
Cod in Tamarind, Coriander and Fenugreek Sauce

I made this during my weeks of Paleo.  I just left out the flour and pinch of sugar from the original recipe.  I don’t think the flour made much of a difference except for maybe bringing our the turmeric colour in the sauce, but my sauce was very tamarind tangy.  Which I love.  Even when I was a little girl, when my mum would make a curry I would dip a spoon in the tamarind and just eat it straight off the spoon.  If you’re not equally minded, add the sugar!  Also, we  don’t have cod so I used monkfish.  I loved this!!!

  • p136 Prawns With Sumac, Coriander, Lemon and Garlic
  • p138 Citrus Spiced Salmon
  • p140 Belly Stuffed Rainbow Trout / Mahi Shekampor
  • p143 Scallops And Shaved Fennel With Saffron, Honey, & Citrus Vinaigrette
  • p144 Za’atar Cod With Relish
  • p147 Bandari Monkfish Tails
  • p150 Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad
  • p152 Barley Salad With Griddled Broccoli and Za’Atar

p154 Radish, Cucumber and Red Onion Salad With Mint And Orange Blossom Dressing (Made)

Radish, Cucumber and Red Onion Salad with Mint and Orange Blossom DressingLovely!!! Fresh and Zingy!

  • p157 Puy Lentil And Quinoa Salad With Lentil And Sumac
  • p160 Tomato Salad With Pomegranate Molasses / Gavurdagi Salatasi
  • p163 Turkish White Bean Salad / Piyaz
  • p173 Chicken And Artichoke Salad With Yogurt Dressing
  • p176 Fennel And Apple Salad With Dill and Pomegranate Seeds

p178 Shirazi Salad (Made)

Shirazi Salad
Totally Yum!!!!

  • p181 Red Rice Salad With Barberries, Grilled Vegetables And Toasted Almonds
  • p183 Fattoush Salad

P184 Chargrilled Aubergines With Saffron Yogurt Parsley and Pickled Chillies (Made)

Chargrilled Aubergines
Chargrilled Aubergines

The very first thing I made and one of my favourite things ever!

  • p186 Date And Tamarind Sauce
  • p193 Harissa Marinated Asparagus
  • p198 Butternut Squash With Pistachio, Pesto, Feta and Pomegranate Seeds

p201 Turmeric and Cumin Roasted Potatoes (Made)

I could not find the photo’s of these.  They were pretty good though!

  • p204 Za’atar Roasted Squash With Spiced Yogurt And Pickled Chillies

P209 Spiced Carrot, Pistachio and Almond Cake With Rosewater Cream

Persiana  Carrot Cake

OMG.  One of the best things I have ever eaten. I got so giddy over this cake I tweeted Sabrina to tell her about it.  She didn’t tweet back so maybe that best friends thing is a non-starter.  However, in a year of good cakes, this and the Amanda Hesser Almond Cake are standout winners.  This is how good this cake is….I cut some slices of this to take to work and I started eating the crumbs.  Then I had a piece,  Then another.  I had three pieces of carrot cake for breakfast that morning and I am completely unrepentent. It’s that good.  Also, the most compliments I have ever received from the work crew about my baking.

You MUST make this! Sorry for the shitty photo though.  Too busy shoving this glorious thing into my face to take anything decent.    

  • p210 Baklava
  • p216 Pistachio and Lemon Shortbreads
  • p217 Strawberry and Pineapple Carpaccio with Basil And Mint Sugars
  • p221 Cinnamon and Citrus Almond And Pastry Cigars
  • p223 Eastern Mess
  • p226 Pistachio, Honey And Orange Blossom Ice Cream

p229 Pistachio Rose And Rasberry Madeleines (Made)

Pistachio, Rose and Raspberry Madeleines


  • p232 Syrup Poached Apricots With Walnuts and Clotted Cream

I am so looking forward to cooking so much more from this!!! Let me know what you like on the list and I will cook it sooner!

You can find the recipes for a few of the things I have cooked and some on the list here:

The Guardian Persiana Recipes

If you have Persiana or you cook any of these recipes please let me know how they turned out, I would love to see them!  And let me know if you love this book as much as I do!

Signature 1 Vintage Valentine Quick as Wink2

Retro Food for Modern Times – (Not) The Hot Weather Cookbook – Middle East Inspired Feast

Last week  I mocked some of the food styling in The Hot Weather Cookbook, so in the interest of fair and unbiased reporting  I thought it was only fair to show what I think is easily the best photo in the book.  Not only that, I was so inspired by the photo I had plans to cook the exact meal as shown for a barbecue dinner we were having.

Lamb Sosaties, Carrot Salad, Cucumber Salad
Lamb Sosaties, Carrot Salad, Cucumber Salad

Why do I love this so much?  First, I think it has a clean modern look to it.  This would not look out-of-place in a current issue of Bon Appetit or Delicious magazine.  Second, I love gingham.  One of the reasons is that it evokes memories of summer, picnics by a river in the shade of a tree, the gingham table-cloth spread on the ground absolutely loaded with super tasty picnic food, the sound of birds and crickets chirping lazily in the background, the sun dappling through the leaves…In my mind picnics look like this. Thanks to the lovely  Amber Clery from the Vintage Home blog for her permission to use these gorgeous photos.

Vintage Home Picnic 1

Vintage Home Picnic 2

Vintage Home Picnic 3

In reality, I remember having a picnic with my parents by a river.  I went for a swim and got a leech on my leg.  The sounds of that picnic weren’t so much the gentle noises of nature or the hushed sounds of silence but hysterical screaming and uncontrollable sobbing.  I vastly prefer Amber’s version. If you would like to see more of Amber’s lovely work (and I honestly think you should), you can link to it from here:

Apart from the gingham, the other things I liked in the photo from “The Hot Weather Cookbook”  were those amazing looking kebabs and the saffron rice with juicy raisins that they are lying on top of.  The legend for the picture told me that were Barbecued Lamb Sosaties accompanied by Carrot Salad and Cucumber Salad.  No mention of the rice.  I had never heard of a Sosatie before so I flipped to the glossary which told me that Sosaties were a:

“Cape Malay (South African) dish of curried meat, cooked in small pieces on a skewer”

So now, not only do these kebabs look delicious, they sound delicious. I was salivating in anticipation of finding out how to cook these delights because I thought they would reconfirm my position as queen of the barbecue.  One of the first things I ever cooked for my family was a “Spicy Feta Burger”.  I must have been eight.  I didn’t even know what feta was but begged my mum to buy some so I could make these burgers.  Some decades later we still make them.  People invited to family barbecues demand them.  In my family and circle of friends, they are legend.  However, all empires fall and it had been quite some time since I had come up with some delectable barbecue goodness.  I’ve rested on my feta burger laurels for far too long.  The time was ripe to launch a new taste sensation.

In my mind, my spicy feta burgers were already singing that Coldplay song about “that was when I ruled the world”.  My Barbecued Lamb Sosaties were running up and down flights of stairs and humming “The Eye of The Tiger.”

We’ll pause there and I’ll tell you about the rice with raisins.  Remember how I said they weren’t mentioned in the picture tag?  I searched for the recipe in index.  Under R there are two entries:

  • Radish Salad, Cool
  • Rice Salad

I didn’t really know where else I  might find the recipe for the rice with raisins (it was not the rice salad recipe listed).  So I flicked through the entire book and found the recipe on page 64…well I found something on page 64 called Yellow Rice With Raisins.  As it’s not name checked in the photo, I can’t be entirely sure it is the same recipe but given that what is pictured is  yellow and it’s rice and it contains raisins I used my best Sherlock Holmesian powers of deduction and decided they were one and the same.  I then went back and checked the recipe index.  This time, I not only checked under R in case I had missed something in the vast number of recipes beginning with that letter.  (I hadn’t.)  I then checked Y…just in case.  Not there either.  I then checked every recipe in the index to see what exactly was listed for page 64.  There’s a Barbecue Sauce which is actually on page 64.  There is no mention of the Yellow Raisin Rice in the index at all.  Grrr….

That annoyed me.   It’s slapdash  and surely someone in the editing process should have picked it up before the book went to print.  Never mind, at least I could make it.  After all, I had the recipe, even if it appeared to have been inserted into the book by stealth.

Ok, so the last time we saw the Barbecued Lamb Sosaties, they were fist pumping the air and claiming global victory in the barbecue stakes.  I looked up Barbecued Lamb Sosaties in the index. 

I started with L…not there.

S…not there either.

I tried B…I may was well not bothered.

I tried a lateral approach and looked under K for kebab and, harking back to the glossary definition, I looked under C (Curry and Cape Malay).  I then looked through every other letter. There was no mention to the Barbecued Lamb Sosaties in the index. Double Grrr!

But the rice recipe wasn’t in the index either.  No point in getting upset.  So, in the spirit of keeping calm and carrying on, I flicked through “The Main Course” section of the book.


I flipped back to the picture.  Those kebabs look hearty but I thought that maybe they are meant to be a first course, like satay sticks in an Asian restaurant. 

They weren’t in the first course section either.

I then looked through the entire book.

Zippedy doo dah.

I then looked through the entire book again, this time focussing on the page numbers.  (This was a second-hand book and, given the awesomeness of the Barbecued Lamb Sosatie, someone may have ripped the page out to keep it for posterity).

Every page was accounted for.


If that looks like I am yelling, it’s because I am.  It’s actually a lot nicer than what came out of my mouth when I initially made this discovery. I probably wouldn’t  be allowed to print exactly what I said.  It’s more than likely illegal in some countries and frowned upon in most others.

I could give you a recipe for Barbecued Lamb Sosaties.  I (eventually) found a number of them on Google.  Instead, I was so annoyed with the Hot Weather Cookbook, I am going to give you the original recipe for the spicy feta burgers.  This recipe is so old now, it comes from a time where they didn’t quite know how to spell spicy.  These are awesome and you should all make them immediately. (Sorry it’s a bit crooked, that is literally the way it is stuck to the page in the family recipe compendium). 

Just to top off a few days where recipes from the past have really let me down, it is also wrong.

I defy anyone to make 12 burgers out of 50g of minced steak.  Unless of course they happen to be pixies. (To anyone not familiar with the metric system, as a point of comparison, I just weighed an egg from my fridge.  It came in at 64g. )

I used 500g of mince when I made the burgers this time and made 12 decent sized burgers.  I left all other amounts as stated.

This can also be very much treated as a base recipe.  For instance, this time round I added some dried chilli flakes and some chopped up coriander.  You could use mint or parsley or basil.  Pinenuts in the mix are fabulous! You can also use lamb mince instead of steak for another variation in flavour.

Spciy Feta Burgers
Spicy Feta Burgers

Out of sheer spite I also didn’t make the rice or either of the salads from The Hot Weather Cookbook.  I made a gorgeous carrot salad inspired by a recipe from Gourmande in the Kitchen.  This recipe is amazing…quite possibly the most vibrant delicious taste sensation I have had all year.  The orange flower water in the dressing is a stroke of genius! The original recipe required watercress.  I tried three local green grocers and was advised that due to the hot weather, we are suffering watercress drought.  I used rocket and it was lovely.  I will definitely also try it with watercress as soon as I can get my hands on some!

Carrot Salad with Orange Flower Water and Cumin Dressing

The cumin and the orange flower water actually go very nicely with the lamb and feta to create a lovely Middle Eastern vibe to this meal.

I made a really quick cucumber salad to go with this, just sliced cucumber, a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and chives, and a squeeze of lemon.  I had a  small bowl of pomegranate molasses as a condiment for the burgers. 

Et voila! Here is my Not The Hot Weather Cookbook Middle East Feast!

Feta Burgers, Carrot and Orange Flower Water Salad, Cucumber Salad and Pomegranate Molasses
Feta Burgers, Carrot and Orange Flower Water Salad, Cucumber Salad and Pomegranate Molasses

This will more than likely be my last post before the New Year as I need to focus on cooking and other things related to the season for the next few days.

Best wishes to all for a safe and happy Christmas and a joyous New Year.


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